Morgan said the holes will be patched in the fall. As in I would get over him. We were eating lunch and there was a crumb on the outside of his left hand below his pinky.
“A bolt of lightning—perhaps Navajo-symbolic, perhaps classic comic-book—seems to bridge both worlds,” he said. I am a comic book and he’s really not a fat pseudo tribal whatnot. I couldn’t even bother myself to think of the proper word. His vocabulary was tiresome. I watched the tight skin, like plum vinyl, across his lips. I imagined a storm with earthquakes. A waiter in soft leather shoes came up with the check.
“Thanks, Scott,” Morgan said to him. “Consider yourself a knight on the couch potato round table.” But lately the plays have been gaining ground on the syllables. He wants a divorce. Morgan lights a cigarette so I cough and put my nose in the neck of my blouse. I decide to ignore him and itch my toes against each other. Morgan is trying to say something,
“Like nation-states and families, groups are best kept fairly small so as to facilitate conversation and an exchange of feelings and all the unnoticed perceptions . . . ” But I slip a finger under my hairdo and plug one ear. Morgan narrows his Indian eyes through the cinders he blew out his nose and says,”Shall we go?” I don’t want to.
“All of us are scrambling,” I say. “Luggage is always apropos.”
“Get up, Humble,” Morgan says. I respect his loss of patience. I tire also of competing with his piffle.
On the way back Morgan massages my closest hand with his free one and says, “It will be all right. You’ll see.” The sun catches turquoise lines down his hair. I look at my other hand and think my biggest insult. The radio station leaves us, in the tunnel, and Morgan starts to sing. He is fifteen years my elder.
“Will you want the gardenias,” I interrupt. “I don’t know, how many can you spare?” I tell him I have twenty-five seeds left. “Seeds—ha ha,” I say.
“Shut up,” he says.
I put his toaster oven and his quilted bean bag in the trunk and waved him off. The house was empty so I slapped the bare floor with naked feet and danced and danced. He had taken the carpet. The wood was gummy. I fell asleep on the second stair down and woke up when the billowy cross-breezes turned cold. I love wind. I want to fly. I danced just a little bit more, then walked onto my balcony. My feet were moist. The night was dusty-book-cover blue. A little chicken rooster thing squawked a mile away, too early. I slid my legs under the balustrade bottom. “Umm,” I whispered. “Hang on.”
“Pumb padumm pumb padumm pumb pa dumpa dumba dumm.” It made my lips tingle. I fought my eyelids closing until morning. Then I went inside. My shoulder blades hurt.
Morgan had taken the wallpaper and now my walls were white. I thought this so much nicer. I flooded my floors with very hot water and went outside. Morgan had taken everything. I think he had a fetish about this. But he was finished and probably wouldn’t be back. I checked the mail after circling the block twice. Empty. I waited probably twenty minutes for the mailman. I wasn’t any good just sitting around and waiting, it made me fall asleep, so I went back inside.
The floors hadn’t dried yet. I slipped reaching across the open dishwasher to see if Morgan left any raisins and got cup prongs in my thigh. Bruise material—I indulged in a little scream. I ran down the stairs and found a man in my basement. I made the mistake of accusing him of stealing my tuna fish packed in spring water. Apparently, he thought the house was deserted and was looking for its Sale sign somewhere. He had nice wrists.
I said, “I’ll fix you some lunch but Morgan took the mayonnaise.” We had the tuna on rice cakes with grainy poupon and he said his name was Alfred.
I said, “Gross.”
He said, “Ok, Manchester.” He was a light coffee black man with green eyes. I showed him how I liked to dance in the stripey shade. He watched the gauze peasant skirt hit my dusty white calves. I kicked up some dust and stopped so we could both watch it turn to millions of tiny electron things.
“What is the most satisfying thing you have ever done,” Manchester asked.
“When I was at my husband’s office once, he told me he was having an affair so I came home and put all the china in the dishwasher.” I laughed.
“What was so satisfying about that.”
“Oh, excuse me, I meant the washing machine.” Then we both danced and he rasped his fingers across my dry palm.
I put on some socks and we shaded our eyes and stepped out on my balcony. I rested my head against his stomach. I could smell his skin.
“Will you tell me how you met your husband,” Manchester asked.
“I was at the bus stop outside of work and he offered me a ride. He said since we both left work at the same time he might as well. One day I waited fifteen minutes in the snow. The snot offered an unnecessary service then forgot me when I finally depended on it. Perfect synopsis of male-oriented relationships by the way. I was sick and tired.”
“Oh,” he said. It gave my head a little bounce. I closed my eyes and basked a bit pink. About dinner time he asked if he could stay and I sat up and put my hand between my legs to keep my skirt from billowing up.
“I’ll think about it,” I said.
“What’s your name, by the way.”
“Humble,” I said.
“Get out of here,” said Manchester.
“Felicity. But Humble’s a bona fide nickname,” I said and climbed off the balcony into a fat tree and hugged a limb to my chest for its smooth and temporary heat.
“Do you have a culture,” I asked Manchester.
“You are being awfully vague,” he said.
Over tuna casserole, I said, “Don’t you have a home, Manchester?” He chewed silently and smoothed his back out like a cat. He had very short fingernails. He rubbed his cheek, near a mole.
“I live down the street from you,” he said. “Oh,” I said. He stood up.
“My grandmother told me there is rarely just one reason for anything,” I said.
“How old are you?” he said.
I said,”Don’t put your leftovers in the sink. It goes down the garbage disposal and feeds the rats.” He sat down and I asked him if he would help me make a swing.
“I have everything except help,” I said. Wood and nylon hiking rope. So we made it. It was dark, but we wanted to swing. I accidentally bashed him in the head.
Morgan came back for the bathtub skids. “Who is that?” he said.
“Manchester,” I said.
“Is he your boyfriend?” he said.
“Do you think I would have hit him if he was,” I said. Morgan asked if I wanted him to call the police. He didn’t look very concerned. The bathtub skids dripped on his red nylon sneakers.
“No,” I said, “I don’t think he’ll take anything.”
“Well, I’ll have my lawyer call you,” he said and left the door open behind him. I went to the kitchen and discovered I couldn’t have fallen on the prongs because they are an inch shorter than the rim. But the rims are still angular. Like the elbows of wire hangers. They hurt too, I’m sure. I ran outside and stopped. Then I went across to the neighbors and borrowed a blanket.
“I’ll try to return this tomorrow,” I said and let myself out.
Manchester had fallen asleep. No, I guess he was still unconscious. He hadn’t moved from where I left him on the floor. He was wearing faded blue-green corduroys and a rose-beige windbraker. I went across to the neighbors and borrowed another blanket. I sat on their velvet couch and ate candied almonds for a while in indecision.
I went back home. But first I went to the bus stop down the street and stuck my finger in the mouth of a man who was yawning. I’ve always wanted to do that. I walked away and the people were getting nervous because they could see the bus rounding the corner and they didn’t quite know what to do with themselves. Like when who they are waiting for at the airport walks off the plane. I usually come late.
I knock on my door and Manchester opens it and tells me I’m beautiful. He could marry me. “Here’s your own blanket, ” I say.
“Come on, Felicity,” he says. I notice he is bleeding.
“Let me fix your wound,” I say, and we sit down. He rests his head against my sternum. We look out the window and I try to decide whether or not to listen to the story of his life.